Future of Librarianship

I am very excited to be working in the library world right now! This digital age has made the librarian field blossom and continues to constantly change. I find this highly interesting about the field and what this will bring for the future.

I am also concerned about this field as well, because many of the old stereotypes of librarians still hold. The stuffy, uptight, strict  librarian who will “ssh” anyone talking to loud. This is detrimental to the field because in this digital age people need helpful gatekeepers to information. And  librarians should be the ones leading the field. Also, there is somewhat of a digital divide in libraries. There are some who are keeping up with current technology and trends, while others are left in the dust with limited technology available. I feel that all libraries and librarians should be at least aware and updated on current technologies such as databases, eBooks, tablets, and apps. This is how librarians can advocate for a place in the digital world by understanding it and able to navigate it.

This is where the problems arise because it’s not only the frame of mind of the librarian willing to implement new technology and services at the library, but there needs to be funding as well. This ties directly into people coming into our library to use programs and materials. Librarians need to be actively advocating to keep patrons coming in but also to keep up finding from state legislature.  If we are able to continue to influence our patrons and communities that we are worthwhile than libraries and librarianship will continue to have a place in the digital age.

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The Need for Collaboration

I found another crucial work that should be read by all librarians, information professionals,  educators, administrators, parents, ans even politicians. this is major issue that needs to be fixed by the government all the way down to parents teaching in their homes. If today’s children can not read to evaluate, analyze, or comprehend the information that they’ve read how are we to survive as as free thinking society?

Readicide defined by Kelly Gallagher is “the systematic killing of  the love of reading , often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools”(2). This is a extremely harsh and eye opening book about how schools have centered their curriculum around test preparedness and have dropped the necessity of reading.  Gallagher has supported his argument with supplementary studies, research, and even his own experiences as a teacher.  Gallagher points out that Sustained Silent Reading is crucial in developing a habit of reading and also is a form of test investment. Gallagher even uses Stephen Krashen’s the Power of Reading to back up his claim. Krashen’s book is another influential work of the importance that reading can have on a child’s development.

Gallagher’s book is focused toward teachers and how they can implement these ideas into their curriculum however there is a message for librarians to take away from this as well. First off, if librarians understand what is going on in the schools, and how reading is dying then librarians can supplement literacy skills with the library’s materials. Second, librarians can see this as a opportunity to join forces with the teachers to reinforce reading in the schools.

Some of Gallagher’s advice can also apply to librarians as well. Taking a stand- as librarians we can go to parents, educators, administration, and community members and advocate for reading to be reinstated in schools, homes, and how the library can assist them. Use books with real world text- Librarians can acquire materials such as newspapers, magazines, periodicals, and online sources to give children and teens to read as current event material. Fight against summer reading loss-Librarians are instrumental in this situation by providing ample recreational reading for youth and a exciting summer reading program. This can help fight against the loss of reading levels during the summer.

And most of all, with each of these actions it is crucial for librarians and teachers to be collaborating on this subject. In Twenty-first Century Kids,  Twenty-First Century Librarians by Virginia Walter, she also values the collaboration of librarians and educators. Walters explains that there should be goals that the partnership sets like,  producing real benefits, have a network of communication,  and must have more than the exchange of getting something each wants.  Walters and Gallagher’s works go hand in hand for librarians because they both promote the same ideas; collaboration  outreach, reading, and the role of librarians.

If our society wants at all to become better and effectively educate tomorrow’s future, then Gallagher’s advice should be taken seriously. As librarians we should be aware of the impact of reading and include this in our agenda when we coordinate with other information professionals.

Information literacy

This is an important topic for youth services librarians to be aware of. Children and teens are coming in contact with more technology and media than ever. when they come into the library for help or pleasure we can use this as an opportunity  to teach them indirectly or directly.  Pierce’s Sex, Brains, and Video Games instructs librarians that their job is to educate teens and parents on how to be information literate.

The librarian could do this many ways by acquisition of materials, classes for teens and parents on this topic, and instruction at the reference desk or through print or online resources. Librarians should not only provide the resources but the education of it as well in how to use them. It is also critical to work with the people who also interact with teens, their parents or caregivers, teachers, education professionals, and community leaders. With a combined vision of how information literacy should be taught to this group can greatly increase the chance of a  positive outcome.

Pierce also recommends that librarians always be on the lookout of new information and technology so we can stay on the cusp of popular media and are able to provide information and instruction about the newest technology.  It is imperative for librarians to stay ahead of the game. This way we can be the information provider to children and teens, which in turn will lead to more returning patrons.

Reference for children

                  This is a challenging aspect of a youth service librarian’s job. what is it that the child is looking for? Children are complex and can be misunderstood which makes them a user group that many librarians do not want to deal with. But I find them fascinating, funny, and incredibly smart. It is important that children are able to receive reference service as well because they have very specific information needs.

                    There are three basic types of service that they need. help with homework and research, voluntary inquires based on curiosity  and assistance with personal problems or issues. This is the dilemma for many librarians because they don’t want to be the teacher or parent helping  or doing homework for the children. This as an opportunity because if the child is not getting the help anywhere else this is the librarians opportunity to step in. Librarians are trained and specialized in knowing the tricks to research and assisting patron’s information needs, and it is our duty to assist with homework help.  The curiosity questions are a bonus. children have a quest to soak up knowledge because they are growing and being able to satisfy their thirst is rewarding.  And assisting children in their personal lives can be tricky, because they will tell you your life story and then some. Librarians need to put their own judgement aside and give the best answer for that situation and if needed talk to the parent or caregiver.

                   Shenton and Dixson’s  “Information Needs: Learning More about What Kids Want, Need, and Expect from Research” explains the types of needs that arise and the variables that effect them.  This is crucial to understanding how to do a reference interview with a child because they care about accuracy and urgency as well as adults.  But children are different in how they act socially and the types of questions asked. The authors came up with strategies for practice and an important one is to develop questions that are not based on preconceived notions but based on the child’s real needs (Shenton, 26). It is also necessary to have open dialogue with the child patron because that way if the need was not met by certain materials the search can be tried again.  This is crucial because some children are shy and will not say so, or they do not even realize they didn’t meet their own need.

                Children’s reference is rewarding and demanding. Librarians have to know it all and be able to read minds,  but not really we can do those things by being friendly, attempting the question wholeheartedly,  and knowing the library’s collection.

Shenton, A.K. and P. Dixson, “Information Needs: Learning More about What Kids Want, Need, and Expect from Research.” Children and Libraries 3 (2): 20-28.

The Invisible Patron

The underrepresented users in the library are  the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning better known  as GLBTQ. Alexander and Miselis  in their article note that this group is not represented in the library by the amount of materials offered. There are many possible reasons that explain this including censorship.  But why should libraries recognize these patrons?

This user group tends to be teens or young adults and if young adult librarians can reach out to them and offer a welcoming comforting environment then they are likely to become a life long user.  Plus public libraries are public spaces and shouldn’t discriminate against any person or user.  Society has recently become of aware of this group as a member of society and librarians should include them in their collection development as a whole.

As Alexander and Miselis have proved in their study GLBTQ teens have information needs and the library is a logical place for them to acquire them. YA librarians need to be aware of the collection development policy at their library and how they can obtain materials for these users.  Censorship and even self-censorship effects the collection development for GLTBQ material in the library. Administration and YA librarians need to work together to understand the need for materials that can aid these teen’s needs. Because not even considering GLTBQ materials is censorship and librarians have a duty to include all of the different types of users.

There are great materials and book lists provided by the professional organizations that supply great books to add to the collection.  This is helpful because it can aid the YA librarian who is unsure what to add, and it is good evidence to the library board and admistration that librarians as a group are thinking about this user group.

Great books to include in your collection that cover these topics:

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson; Peter Parnell; Henry Cole

Putting makeup on the fat boy  by Bill Wright and Lauren Linn

Money boy by Paul Yee

Sweet like Sugar by Wayne Hoffman

With or without you by Brian Farrey

Pink by Lili Wilkinson

  • 2012 Rainbow list consists of great choices for children and teen                                                                                  http://glbtrt.ala.org/rainbowbooks/archives/953

Alexander and Miselis, “Barriers to GLBTQ Collection Development and Strategies for Overcoming Them,” Young Adult Library Services, Spring 2007, pp. 43-49